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Kevin Prince Boateng (KPB), At Nearly 32, The Newest Member of FC Barcelona January 22, 2019

Posted by michaeltomlinson in FC Barcelona, Spanish soccer.
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Apparently Boateng is as surprised as anyone by his return to the La Liga. But it may not be as odd as everyone is making it out to be.


The departure of Munir, and the ongoing tumultuous stint of Malcom at the Blaugrana has left a hole in the depth up-front at Barca. There had been talks of Carlos Vela leaving the MLS for a La Liga return, but those cooled leading up to this, seemingly out of no-where signing. Boateng joins the Catalan side from mid-table Serie A outfit, Sassoulo where he has netted 4, and assisted 2 in just 11 appearances. By all accounts KPB was as surprised as anyone, admitting he wanted to “run to Barcelona” upon being informed of their interest. That interest seemed to be expressed as late as Saturday, and the loan-to by option was sorted and he was announced by the club Tuesday. Barcelona has the option to buy the 31-year-old attacker after the season for a reasonable $10 million price-tag. These string of roster additions are just what every Barcelona pundit would have predicted for the 2018-19 season, a coming together of Arturo Vidal and Kevin Prince Boateng. Two enigmatic journey-men known for their individual flair and on-field intensity.

KPB was brought in mainly to serve as a back-up to Suarez on the left side of the front line. And while in the past Barcelona has shied away from large on-field personalities in favor of their tactical system driven personnel decisions, you could argue since the addition of Neymar there has been a shift in the front office’s approach. This shift in what some describe as the club’s “ethos,” is often linked to Barcelona’s famed academy, “La Masia” not producing first team players at the same rate that Catalan side is accustomed to.

Regardless of any ideological shifts within Barcelona, as an organization Boateng is still a talented scorer and creative attacker with a lot left in the tank. If he can replicate what Vidal has brought to the side thus far his loan period, and potential singing could be a revelation for both club and player.

Barcelona 8-2 Huesca. How it happened September 7, 2018

Posted by michaeltomlinson in FC Barcelona, Spanish soccer, Tactics.
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How does a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute turn into an 8-2 loss? On Sunday Huesca gave managers, players, and fans alike a crash course on how to make that happen.

Barca’s 8:

  1. They say a first goal is a sign of things to come, in this case, it was a lightly defended Lionel Messi at the top of the box, with just one man to beat. Messi, of course, slalomed past the now stumbling and falling defender and slotted his effort into the bottom left corner, with his wildly inferior right foot.
  2. An abundance of space, not just for Messi, but for everyone in a Blaugrana shirt, and especially down the flanks set up the second. Undone by an own goal, Huesca allowed a Jordi Alba run with plenty of space, but with very few teammates in-tow. So instead, the industrious fullback, from just outside the goalmouth sent a short pass off the foot of Jorge Pulido, and past the keeper.
  3. Same story as the second, far too much space to run into for Jordi Alba. Not to say work didn’t need to be done, but once Coutinho beat three defenders with a perfectly weighted 25-yard ball it was a simple low cross from Alba to a neat and tidy finish from El Pistolero. Suarez’ first goal of the 2018-19 campaign.HALFTIME 3-2 Barcelona (Huesca brought one back right before half)


  4. Just seconds being saved by the head of Huesca’s goalkeeper, Werner, on a rocketed volley by Messi from 6 yards out, Huesca was again beaten by the through ball. This time Suarez connected with Dembele straight into the left side of the box where the French international calmly placed his shot far post.
  5. Inventive pass from Messi dinked over the top of 3 defenders just outside the box to an on-coming Rakatic who sent home a picture-perfect half-volley from a tough angle 15 yards out.
  6. Coutinho with a through ball from the defensive half, beating a horrifically positioned Huesca center-back pairing. Messi gathered some 40 yards from goal beats a defender on his hip and slides one past Werner’s left to the bottom right corner.
  7. Did I mention Jordi Alba had a lot of space down the left? Well he did, a simple run past, um no one and a lead pass from Messi led to a tight angled tap past the keeper.
  8. PENALTY! Just what the game needed. Suarez taken down by the goalkeeper, Werner in the corner of the box. Like every Gerard Pique moment later in the game was itching to score, but alas Suarez took his own pen and ended it.

Adriano in doubt for derby October 30, 2013

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As reported by the Barcelona website, Adriano is doubtful against Espanyol… This will likely force Montoya into the LB role with Alba out…. In a shocking twist Barcelona is having trouble staying healthy in defense. No one saw this coming, When asked how Carles Puyol felt about all the piling up injuries he replied, “shocked.”… Probably…

Messi’s Tax fraud gets creepy Taiwanese treatment June 14, 2013

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This extremely accurate depiction of tax fraud is brought to you by the country of Taiwan. But who are we kidding, everything Messi does is cute, defrauding the government Spain just got an adorable facelift!

Neymar signs for… Oregon State University? May 31, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Brazilian soccer, MLS, Spanish soccer.
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The Brazilian starlet was all but destined to be Barcelona’s next great South American star. Instead, Neymar has decided to take his talent South beac… Err Corvallis, Oregon! As pictured below the 21-year-old striker has closely monitored the progression of Portland Timbers GREAT Ryan Johnson and has decided to take on 4 years of eligibility, just like former OSU stand-out, Johnson. This of course makes a lot of sense due to a recent independent study which I just made up that says  U.S. soccer players have a 74% chance to be more successful in the pro ranks if they opt for the college route. A couple more interesting statistics, Neymar is now 69% more likely to puke immediately following a beer bong attempt gone wrong, but is also 93% less likely to contract gonorrhea after a transexual orgy… We all have our vices.

Just think of how good Barcelona and Real Madrid might be without messed-up internal politics. October 20, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Spanish soccer.
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Gonzalo Higuain (center) suffers because he is associated with former Madrid president Ramon Calderon. Probably his association with Alfredo Di Stefano is not a problem.

Reading Sid Lowe’s most recent Sports Illustrated column about the debate over whether G0nzalo Higuain or Karim Benzema should start for Real Madrid, I was struck by what seems like a fundamental institutional weakness at that club: politics can play itself out in team selection.

It shouldn’t be that the identity of the president that purchased a player dictates whether he’s selected. If that even becomes a shadow of a consideration, the team is poorer for it.

I’m a Barcelona fan, though, so I would say that, but it’s supposedly happened at Barcelona too. Joan Laporta was chiefly responsible for bringing Samuel Eto’o to Barcelona; his political rival Sandro Rossell was instrumental in persuading Ronaldinho to sign. In Ronaldinho’s best years, he was surrounded by fellow Brazilians — Edmilson, Thiago Motta, Juliano Belletti, Sylvinho and the Brazilian-born Deco. In two years, Barcelona sold every one of Ronaldinho’s compatriots and brought in a group of players who, like Eto’o, spoke French — Thierry Henry, Yaya Toure, Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita (plus Lilian Thuram, who was already at the club). The rumor is that this was an intentional move to weaken Rossell and strengthen Laporta. The year when it began, 2007-8, was also Barcelona’s least successful under Frank Rijkaard.

It’s a wonder these clubs ever win anything.

The Barcelona the bad and the Timbers. August 28, 2011

Posted by michaeltomlinson in European soccer, MLS, Spanish soccer, U.S. soccer.
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Where Cooper spends most of his time

I absolutely loathe the New York Yankees. My disdain towards Ben Roethlisberger outside of his noted deviant tendencies is aided by the team’s unmatched NFL success of 6 Superbowls. For no apparent reason I agree with Just For Men Gel in more ways than one, I”m just under the impression that Emmitt Smith IS trash. And then there is my beloved Barcelona, fighters of Castilian oppression, proprietors of the beautiful game, and undoubted soccer behemoth. They are arguably at the pinnacle of their existence with a team that hears whispers of “the greatest of all time.” Quite the opposite feeling I generally have for front runners. To be honest I have only been a fan since they were some level of, (better than every team in La liga, save the possibility of Real Madrid). But then again in modern Spanish football this is all a forgone conclusion. Unless of course Malaga signs a few, eight or nine more crafty foreigners, Italians maybe?

What goes hand in hand with supporting a winner is defending that fanhood. In this instance, I can’t argue. I liked Barcelona because they were good. It wasn’t as though I was force-fed soccer when my sports-fandom was in its infancy. For some reason our aluminum foil covered bunny ears which controlled my Television well into middle school weren’t able to pick up fox soccer channel. And while my childhood friends were always down to play a pick up game of almost anything, soccer was NEVER a choice. We’d set up recycle bins as goals and scrounge up hockey sticks before they’d let me bring a soccer ball into the mix. Having your 6 closest friends all play football and at the same time dismiss soccer as sport leads to a weird level of self hate. Despite the fact it was obviously the sport I excelled at most, I put the least amount of work into the craft. Soccer was September to the end of November and that was that.

Ultimately I owe my allegiance towards Barcelona to two people, Ronaldihno and Alex Tomchak. One was a little bit more vital to the success of the team, the other, at least twice as Polish. So its a crap shoot to say who is REALLY more important. I must say it is a fairly easy job to support a team with as much recent success as the Blaugrana have seen. But winning titles and cups lose there luster when the notion of surprise has been whittled into theories on we could blow this one, rather than the jubilance of triumph. There is a difference between feeling exhausted after your side wins a well fought game, and feeling relieved. And when I start feeling relieved watching the best team on earth rip teams apart on the pitch of Camp Nou, I remember a day from now Rodney Wallace is sure to disappoint with three drastically errant crosses.

It isn’t that the Portland Timbers (or Rodney Wallace) are that bad, I mean everyone in the MLS is a professional by the dictionary’s standard. They just do things a bit differently, IE: struggle to connect the midfield to anything, whether that be from the defense forward or the Front line, back. Which is unfortunate for a team which arguably has its 3 best players (Nagbe, Chara and Jewsbury)  in the midfield. Even when the Timbers win they are lucky to see 40 percent of the possession. But god damn it they try, and no one tries harder than Adidas’ MLS headman Kenny Cooper. Which may ultimately be the reason why I hate him, also because he isn’t good at soccer. I could go on for an eternity about the frustration and toil my home town team puts me through, but alas, I like it. Right now they are fighting it out for the most American of playoff spots, the Tenth seed, yes out of 18  teams. The MLS is certainly a different brand of soccer and the Timbers quite frankly aren’t nearly ready to compete for a championship, which is somewhat refreshing.

FC Barcelona doesn’t care about black people July 18, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in European soccer, Spanish soccer.
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First George W Bush and now the authority on beautiful football, FC Barcelona may catch the weary eye of one, hip-hop fashionista Kanye West. Over the last two years they have for one reason or another let go of their three most prominent African descended footballers (Touré, Henry, Eto’o). French National Eric Abidal is the lone ranger who sees consistent starting time at left back, and made clear by this striking photo he apparently doesn’t like you, sorry.

I’m not trying to portray Juan La Porta as xenophobic or anything, I’m just saying he fears foreigners for generally unfounded preconceptions, its different. I am willing to accept that his MAY be an absurd and unjust claim, but really it is too easy to blame Spain and their people for cute little instances of racial insensitivity, its just so casual!

One of the more recent exits of Yaya Touré felt personally the worst and from a footballing stand point made the least sense. Thierry Henry’s voyage to the new world was no shock, The retirement home for former European greats, errrr The MLS had been keen on him for a while and shouldn’t leave Camp Nou in any sort of dire position. But Touré at times did for Barcelona what Cesc is heavily relied on doing for Arsenal and arguably Spain in his substitute stints, and that is break down the center of the pitch with timely and calculated runs. I’m ready aware that Cesc plays an attacking role while Yaya generally holds down the defensive side of things but what they share is an innate ability to find gaps in the center of defense for runs off the ball, and both players do this for teams who at times control possession without much vigor to push forward.

On another note Xavi and Iniesta are often coined by many as the little magicians and what they do, they do it superbly, but that certainly isn’t being 6’2 and large bodied. Where as Xavi and Iniesta together use more outside of the foot touches and turns to frustrate defenders Touré literally boxes them out a la Charles Barkley. Size in soccer probably means less than any major sport especially in The United States but that isn’t to say that it is unimportant. Between Xavi, Iniesta and Messi they barely have 15 and a half feet between them and calling Sergio Busquets frail may be an understatement. Sometimes you need a large body out there just to keep defenses honest.

Whether you find it absurd or not their is a Reason (outside of spending money on pretty much anything) that Manchester City made Touré the highest paid player in the Premiership. Being able to hold down the fort with stellar positioning and smart passing coupled with the ability to ward off defenders to maintain possession and create through the center of the pitch is something any team in the world would love to model a holding midfielder after.

It’s been made fairly obvious with the disgraceful departure of Chygrynskiy that at times even with the touted youth system and scouting prowess Barcelona has at their finger tips they dig a bit too deep. If it aint’ broke don’t fix it, and yet with Samuel Eto’o  a year prior and with Yaya recently the Catalan giants seem content with dealing away talent in search of the next best thing.  An analogy can be made to your neighborhood heroin addict and his inherent need for more but I think the xenophobia reference was quite enough for everyone.

Spain scores but Iker still looks like doodoo June 21, 2010

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Spanish soccer, Uncategorized, World Cup 2010.
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David Villa minutes after blasting a 35 yard shot off the cross bar found the back of the net. Strategically cutting between 2 Honduran defenders and beating the last with a sliding finish into the top corner giving the tournament one of it’s best goals. despite the quick start from the Barcelona/Real Madrid spit squad Iker Casillas continued is peculiarly bad ways. Early on he again broke up an attempt by choosing to use his feet once more, the same tactic which could be blamed for the Swiss’s only goal. It isn’t just that his physical goal keeping has been struggling but his psychy seems a bit shot and  his control over the defensive positioning is lacking from what you’d expect a top keeper to portray. But alas it is in the 37th minute and Spain is up 1-0. A couple more goals leading up to the vital contest vs Chile could be useful heading into a probable 3 way tie  on 6 points.